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The experience of awareness, of the subjective and of the objective in yoga and oriental meditation.

by Amadio Bianchi

In a simple haṭhayoga lesson, or common yoga, considered more properly physical, students are often invited by their teacher to close their eyes even while maintaining positions. This allows them to stay in the present through a process of experience different from the usual, starting to live, individually their inner universe.

And this is how, sometimes unconsciously, students receive the first true initiation, reborn into new life, a life based on greater awareness.

For this reason, yoga, under no circumstances, even in hatha yoga, must be considered as a normal form of external gymnastics. Even more so for other types of yoga, mostly for meditation, where the inner approach is even more evident.

It would seem such a simple thing to close your eyes but in reality, it is not so, because with your eyes closed, the pupil finds itself putting it state of attention into action on a field that is not it usual.

The student usual experience, and consequently all that is in its mind up to that moment, derives from experience of its senses and this new condition, it would disorient it if the teacher with his/her presence and his/her words did not make it a point of reference.

The master, in fact, normally, continues inviting the students to become aware of the position of their body while maintaining their attention, in a certain sense, at the verge, so that the practice does not result, at first, too shocking for lack of knowledge.

Only a certain maturity will allow the student to face its inner self more deeply, it will be suggested to make the awareness converge on the respiratory act, looking at the experience of the Self or sense of self (in Sanskrit Aham), the principle of the subjective.

The subjective, for yoga culture, derives from the inward-developing and cohesion principle that in the sāṃkhyadarśana, one of the six orthodox points of view of Hinduism, is called ahaṃkāra.

The ahaṃkāra is the stage in which matter or prakrti is found, when it proceeds from the neutral state of mahat (energetic mass) to that of unitary mass, still without personal experience, but already with the dark awareness of being an ego, as it described on the encyclopaedia of yoga.

The ahaṃkāra represents, being a foundation of separation, a real obstacle that is felt in meditation, preventing the experience of unity, since the true Self, harnessed in this condition, fails to realize its autonomy due to ignorance, for which the Self exchanges the body, the senses and the mind for the true Self. And this lack of discrimination between the Self and the non-Self is said to be the cause of all affliction, because of the characteristic instability of the non-Self. With the support of discrimination, freedom will originate.

To the determined students this appears immediately clear. It will experience various phases during which their will perceive their physical existence as a shell or as a dress, in which their will feel enclosed, and in the worst moments this feeling will be accompanied by a sense of oppression.

The students less prepared, on the other hand, will remain captivated by his microcosm , especially the mental, fascinated (like a child at the funfair) by the great variety of situations present within themselves and there they will be lost for a long time, even forgetting the objective experience that they were expected.

We said that it is the lack of discrimination between the Self and the non-Self that is misleading, making the subjective vision be exchanged for reality. This is due to the avidyā, the Sanskrit word that stands for ignorance. The people who walk the pathway of yoga must face a hard-mental purification before seeing an objective discriminative capacity arise in themselves.